After Burst Pipe Causes Extensive Damage, South Orange Rescue Squad Seeks Donations

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The South Orange Rescue Squad is in need of financial assistance after a burst pipe on Christmas Day caused serious damage to the building and equipment.

“We were able to move our ambulances outside before the ceiling collapsed,” said Chief Victor Rothstein, but “…the drywall and heavy water soaked insulation fell [and] damaged our garage’s heat system, lighting, garage doors, electrical outlets, and shorelines for our ambulances. The water and falling debris also damaged equipment we store in our garage such as an ice freezer we keep our fire rehab supplies in and a shelf full of spare medical supplies that are now unusable.”

The squad is all-volunteer; it never charges patients for its services and receives no direct funding from property taxes. “We run solely on donations from our generous community and fundraising initiatives. Our ambulances and building are purchased and owned by the squad,” Rothstein said.

Because the squad was able to move the ambulances out before they could get damaged, “we have been able to remain in service for the community,” said Rothstein. However, “we have had to leave our ambulances outside in the below freezing temperatures which is not ideal but unfortunately the garage is a hazard at this time. The remaining parts of the building were undamaged, only the garage, our supply room, laundry room, and mechanical room were affected. We do have insurance but it is still unclear how much they will cover from this event.”

People can donate here.

“We kindly ask that people give what they can,” he continued. “This year we did experience a 20% drop in donation revenue from our fund drive which has concerned us. Now with the unknown expenses that will come with this pipe bursting, we are concerned that our margin of loss will widen.”

See more about the incident on the SORS Facebook page and here:

People can also help by spreading the word — or also by joining the squad. “We are also always recruiting, anyone can apply to join our tight knit family,” he said. “We provide all the training and equipment. We also recruit individuals who do not want to ride the ambulance but want to help in an administrative function, such as writing grants, running PR campaigns, fundraising, helping with maintenance of our building and trucks, etc.”

Rothstein provided some interesting facts about SORS:

  1. Recognized and has the reputation as one of the best functioning, most clinically competent volunteer EMS agencies in the state. SORS survived COVID when many EMS departments did not. We have some of the most cutting edge trucks, medical equipment, and training equipment available on the market and our EMTs are noted as some of the most capable.
  2. Our squad has built a strong reputation as a training squad and a squad that is “cutting edge”. SORS was the first in Essex county to have hemostatic impregnated gauze to treat serious hemorrhage. We were the first in the county to carry aspirin to treat cardiac emergencies.  We were the first to have CPAP on our ambulances to treat severe respiratory emergencies. We were the first in the RWJ-Barnabas Medical Control system to get albuterol to treat asthma and COPD exacerbations. We started carrying PEEP before most paramedics started carrying them.
  3. We are piloting the Pulmodyne Naso-Flo Airway, we are the only squad in the state carrying this new airway. It is a nasopharyngeal airway with the ability to assess capnography and deliver high flow oxygen directly to the pharynx. We are reporting our results to RWJ-Barnabas Medical Control.
  4. We answer over 99.99% of the calls we are requested for both in town and mutual aid (communities that we are not primary in, but will respond to such as Maplewood, Newark, Irvington, Orange) with an average dispatch to on scene time of 4.5 minutes, 3 minutes below the national average.
  5. No patients are billed for our services, we run solely on donations from our generous community and fundraising initiatives. Our ambulances and building are purchased and owned by the squad.
  6. We also run a community initiatives program, which is a program dedicated to improving health within our community to prevent the medical emergencies in the first place. Initiatives we have done are a mass distribution of first aid kits, hand sanitizer, reflective wear for trick-or-treaters on Halloween, and purchase/installation/maintenance of public access AED stations.
  7. We run a cadet program which allows high school students the ability to learn and gain real world medical experience.



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